I remember it all like it was yesterday: the Google searching, the book reading, the asking for recommendations, the dreaming of all the fancy pants items that celebrities have for their kids, as I cradled my baby bump and selected item after nonsensical item on my registry. My baby shower was just gorgeous and I was fortunate enough to receive TONS of stuff for my baby boy (the luckiest boy in the world). Fast Forward to when I delivered, brought the baby home, and donated about 75% of the stuff I purchased, was gifted, accumulated, etc. over those 9 months. Because guess what? Most of the stuff I THOUGHT I needed, the stuff I myself bought, the stuff I asked for on my registry, the stuff I ordered online in haste and anticipation, was TOTALLY USELESS.
My friends are now pregnant with their first babies, including my sister-in-law, and they kept asking me what stuff they should get because after two years (my son is now TWO. TWO!!) I about saw it all, tried it all, and I could care less what a label says. I know what works on my son and what didn’t.
So as my Holiday Gift to You (and to my gorgeous glowing friends and sister-in-law) I am sharing my favorites, both practical and fun, because taking care of a newborn is hard enough without worrying about what you need. Stock up on these items, and you’ll be good to go.
American Red Cross Grooming Kit: This fabulous little kit contains everything you need for taking care of baby, from a thermometer to a soft bristle comb, to the MOST IMPORTANT ITEM OF THE KIT: the nail clippers. Ask any new mom her biggest fear, and cutting nails will be at the top of the list. I filed Johnny’s with a small nail file from the pharmacy at first, but then when it came time to really cut, these clippers saved my life, never cut his skin, and we use them till this day. *NOTE: Get rid of the magnifying glass thingie because all it does is get in the way and you can’t see anything in it)
Baby Contours Classique 3-in-1 Wood Bassinet: By now you’ve probably seen all the gorgeous, frilly, non-frilly, oval, curtains, sans-curtains bassinets on the market, all of which look good in theory but have zero practicality. This 3-in-1 Wood Bassinet may not look like the most beautiful bassinet you’ve ever seen, but what it lacks in looks it makes up for in total comfort and ease for both you and baby. It features a full-size bassinet, removable Moses basket and changing table (though to be honest I never tried the changing table aspect, I just changed him inside the bassinet). What I loved most about this was the WHEELS (WHEELS!!) so I could move him from room to room with ease, AND it has this incredible deluxe hanging organizer to stock up on diapers, diaper cream, bottles, extra onesies & receiving blankets, you name it. The mattress/pad was also both comfortable (so he made it seem) and worry-free: nothing fluffy at all, it was firm and safe, which as we all know is key to prevent SIDS. I alternated between a bassinet sheet and a thin king-size pillow case as a pad cover.
Johnson & Johnson First Aid Travel Kit: Call it total paranoia, but I put this travel first-aid kit in my diaper bag and it’s stayed there ever since. You may not need this when your baby is first born (thank the Lord) but it will come in handy down the road when you need band-aids, antiseptic wipes, Neosporin (or Tylenol for yourself). First time my son had a cut at the park, I was overjoyed at the one thing I planned well for: a disastrous scrape. You’ll be thankful too! I love the travel version because not only will it fit nicely in your diaper bag or inside your changing table at home, but it has just enough essentials to keep you calm in an emergency.
Skip Hop Special Edition Diaper Bag: There are way too many diaper bag brands to keep track of, and most of them are beyond frustrating to use for little things like changing your baby and holding all of their stuff. This is the only bag you’ll ever need, start to finish. As with every Duo Diaper Bag, a changing pad is included for on-the-go convenience. Magnetic closures on both the exterior bottle pockets and a zip on the main compartment ensure everything stays in its place. An interior bottle pocket and two side pockets keep diapers, bottles and parent must-haves organized while out and about. Plus, the wipe-clean surface helps protect against any small spills or dirt that may come your way. Not to mention it comes in super cute patterns so you’ll confidently cart your baby’s things looking like the hot mom that you are.
Johnson & Johnson Travel Size Head to Toe Wash & Baby Lotion: The number one piece of advice I give to every new mom is: ALWAYS carry baby wash in your bag. I have lost count of how many blow-outs Johnny had while we were at the grocery store, a restaurant, in the car, visiting grandma, at the pediatrician, on the PLANE. You name it, he’s pooped there. And so will your baby. Nothing saves your sanity more than grabbing your mini bottle of baby wash and washing those cute little tushies clean in a public bathroom sink. You’re smirking now, but so am I, because it will happen to you. I didn’t even include a link here because you can get this for 99 cents at your local pharmacy or Target. You can also include some travel lotion to smooth those tushies up after cleaning, as well as at least 2 receiving blankets in your bag to dry them up (or catch dribble, or milk, or vomit, or lay on top of your changing pad in a public bathroom changing table…the possibilities are endless).
Graco Snugride Classic Connect Infant Car Seat: With so many car seats on the market, it’s pretty difficult to pick the right one, and even more difficult to find one that’s both safe, comfortable and (dare we say it) not an eye-sore. But we were lucky to have found the Graco Snugride Infant Car Seat (in Platinum, as shown here). Equipped with a 5-point harness, an ergonomic carrying handle, a stay-in-car base, a canopy, and an infant head rest for added comfort and support, this SnugRide® infant car seat will serve you and your baby well. This model SnugRide® infant car seat also has GracoPedic™ foam for luxurious comfort, an all weather boot with blanket for added warmth, and a double infant head support with comfy harness covers. Plus, harness straps that adjust at the front of the car seat make getting your baby in and out even easier. And, when your baby is snug inside, you can keep an eye on your little one thanks to the canopy peek-a-boo window. Another bonus: it’s SUPER LIGHT WEIGHT which you will appreciate when you have to cart the seat around on your forearm. I also loved the added comfort whenever we were visiting family because it was so easy to rock him to sleep in it. *BONUS: You can also buy the car seat adapter to click it in to your stroller, like this one here made to fit the UppaBaby Vista.
HALO Sleepsack Swaddle: I remember taking notes and nodding my head enthusiastically during both a parenting class and the nurse’s impromptu demonstration at the hospital all about swaddling my baby. I was all “THIS is so easy, I mean the demo doll just like goes right in, no problem. I’m going to get this. I got this.” What the classes fail to tell you is that your baby MOVES. A LOT. Like throws their little teeny arm right out of the blanket and cries. The HALO Sleepsack Swaddle was my savior. Not only did it contain him safe and sound in a swaddle position, but it replaces loose blankets in the crib that can cover your baby’s face and interfere with breathing. An adjustable swaddle wrap immobilizes your baby’s arms to prevent the “Moro” or startle reflex. It is the only 2-in-1 adjustable swaddle that allows for swaddling arms in or out for baby’s comfort, ensuring an easy and gentle transition to the SleepSack wearable blanket (another AMAZING invention). Size newborn fits 6-12 lbs, size small fits 13-18 lbs. I had about 6 of these in both cotton for fall and fleece for winter. I always had an extra one in the bottom of the bassinet to change him if he spit up or had an accident in one. I totally attribute the Sleepsack for helping my son (and my husband and I!) sleep through the night.
Galt Playnest & Gym Farm: This thing is the coolest, most entertaining AND practical item for baby. Think of it as a boppy and play mat in one. Galt’s Playnest Gym-Farm is a soft, supporting multi-sensory environment for your baby. The Playnest is a fabric-covered inflatable ring that supports your baby during rest time and makes play time even more fun. Your baby will love playing with the 4 engaging toys that come with the Gym-Farm. Use the colorful links to rearrange the toys at different heights on the overhead bar. The ring itself features 8 additional activities, with textures and sounds designed will engage your child’s attention and stimulate hand-eye coordination and motor skills. Galt has designed this Playnest to help promote your child’s physical and play development. The fabric cover has a soft, quilted center and is machine washable. I constantly gift this to friends and family, and everyone always wants to know where I got it from. It’s fun for baby and helps mommy keep her sanity when she’s trying to clean, work, pee, etc. because baby stays safely inside and has a blast.
Corolle BabiCorolle Elf Dolls: I have been a fan of Corolle since I was 4 years old. The premium doll brand designed in France, Corolle makes beautiful dolls for children ages 0-4. Their newborn collection, BabiCorolle, offers snuggly soft first dolls for your baby, boy or girl. The elf dolls are a personal favorite (they RATTLE!!!), and come in various colors and styles like Elf Pink Cotton Flower and Elf Blue Stars. The dolls are machine-washable, rattle when you jiggle them, super safe (as your baby licks, sucks and drools all over it, you’ll see!) and encourage pulling and grabbing to strengthen coordination. Must have.
Triple Paste Diaper Cream: Every Mom has their own personal favorite brand of diaper cream, until I tell them about Triple Paste. This is hands down the BEST CREAM you can buy. My son (he’s two now. TWO!) has never ever ever ever had a rash because I saturated his tushie with this stuff from day one. Every diaper change, every bath, every time. He came close to a rash when a horrible stomach flu was going around and this nipped it in the bud in one afternoon. I always buy the 16 oz. giant size tub and keep it on his changing table, and have the smaller tube (found in most grocery stores) in the diaper bag. I’m telling you. This is your answer.
UppaBaby Vista Stroller: My Dad called this the “Cadillac of Strollers” and he wasn’t joking. The VISTA is a convertible stroller system that can transport up to three children – without growing wider. Designed to adapt as your family grows, the VISTA accommodates your precious cargo from birth through the toddler years. I used the bassinet attachment the first few months walking around my neighborhood because it was so wonderful to let him sleep and watch the sky, absolutely comfortable soft mattress inside, and the sturdiest, widest wheels you could ask for. It’s a dream to push. I used the adapter when I took him around on errands because it was great to keep him in his car seat, clip that out of the car, then into the base of the Vista and go shopping. Now that we’re into the toddler attachment, it’s still just as cool and easy. It’s an eye-catcher, and super pricey, but given the ease of use, incredible quality and longevity (heck you can even strap 2 more kids in this thing when you want more!) it’s totally worth it.
Boppy: This is a go-to on everyone’s list, and one of the few things I actually registered for that was incredibly, amazingly useful. Not only is it fantastic if you breast-feed, but just overall helpful to prevent the “tennis-elbow-like soreness” that you get once you’re carrying around an 8lbs+ human. It’s incredibly soft and comfortable, and was also the first thing we used to help Johnny’s tummy time exercises and propping time. He loved being able to sit up and watch us. I always had 2-3 slipcovers on hand because again, spit-ups, overall dirt and grime etc. so having an extra cover was a lifesaver while we threw the other in the washing machine. BONUS: he still plays with it today, so you’ll always find a use for it.
Munchkin High Speed Bottle Warmer: Whether you’re planning on breastfeeding or going the formula route like I did, having a bottle warmer in the house is a MUST. There is nothing worse (NOTHING) than when you have to get up at 2am, exhausted, stumbling into the kitchen and start boiling water in a pot old-school style to warm up your baby’s pre-made (or sometimes NOT) bottle of refridgerator cold formula or breast milk as he/she screams bloody murder for milk. An easy-to-use bottle warmer that truly saves precious time, the High Speed Bottle Warmer can warm a bottle in as little as 90 seconds. The built-in measuring cup, lift-out basket and adapter ring makes warming bottles more convenient. I loved that I never ever had to worry if I made it too hot because the timer took the guesswork out for me (I checked, of course, on my wrist after warming every time, and it was always lukewarm, ie perfect for baby).
Being a new Mama is hard enough, but hopefully these tips and recommendations will help you focus on what’s really important: bonding with your baby. Good luck! You GOT THIS!